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Black Xantus | Humboldt Brewing Co.

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Black XantusBlack Xantus

Brewed by:
Humboldt Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Barrel aged for 6 months in combination of Bourbon, retired Firestone Union and wine barrels and Infused with fair-trade, organic coffee from local roaster Jobella.

Style: Imperial Java Stout IBUs: 50 Color: Black ABV: 11%

Added by ThreeWiseMen on 10-09-2009

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Reviews: 425 | Ratings: 1,332
Photo of GOBLIN
3.99/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Overall a decent imperial stout. Doesn't have that deep pitch black appearance I've come to expect from your typical imperial stout though. Appearance is more of a dark mahogany. Flavors of cocoa, vanilla, dark chocolate, coffee, and a faint, subtle touch of bourbon . . . If any at all.

 289 characters

Photo of barczar
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Aroma is thick with dark fruit, molasses, and roast malt. Deeply caramelized notes meld well with dates, figs, and plums. There's a touch of leather. Smells extremely sweet. Notes of vanilla and bourbon emerge as it warms.

Flavor is very sweet initially, with a roasty, lightly charred malt backbone kicking in mid palate and carrying through to a lightly bitter finish. Well balanced. Wine barrels added a slight tart contrast. Fairly complex beer. Hints of cinnamon and vanilla surface in the aftertaste, and coffee becomes more noticeable. Really opens up as it warms. The bitterness is just a tad too charred, for my liking, and it's a bit hot.

 649 characters

Photo of oldn00b
4.36/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours black, almost no head forms - when agitated a dark tan head of about 1/8 inch forms and recedes immediately. Color is spot on - can see the nice deep red hue around the rim.

Nose is full of coffee, chocolate and a bit of bourbon.

Flavor is coffee forward, dark sweet from the malt and a bit of the warmth from the barrel - not at all boozy. The coffee and chocolate are both bright and bitter but the overall character is sweet. Long finish - the coffee lingers longest.

It's incredibly gentle on the palate, surprisingly so for the ABV and amount of bitter from the brew. Was expecting it to come across as under carbonated but there is medium low carbonation and very tight - also helps keep the sweet aspects in check.

This one is better than expected but hard to pick up what the barrel(s) imparted. Maybe it's just an overall softening of some of the more forward characteristics but it's the best thing I've had from these guys, hands down.

 963 characters

Photo of breadwinner
4.36/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Almost 3-year old bottle I just got to sample and, man, it was might fine, far better than I remember, the coffee incredibly smooth, fruity even, probably enhanced by the partial wine-barrel aging, no shortage either of dark, lightly chocolately malts and slight bourbon barrel. Really well done. Not sure how the newer versions are, since FW no longer produces Nectar/Humboldt, but if you run across an old bottle, by all means snag it.

 437 characters

Photo of drpimento
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Average appearance but excellent flavor and body. Flavor is nicely bittersweet with the bourbon, roast, and cocoa to perfectly compliment. Body has a round fullness yet enough carbonation to balance and boozy warmth to remind you of its power. Good stuff

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Photo of KensWorld
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

650ml bomber purchased back in November 2014.

L = thick light brown head with killer silky solid lacing. Almost black.
S = not much going on
T = wow, very powerful taste bud explosion. Ending with a burn down the throat. Brown sugar and burnt caramel dominate. No coffee taste at all, nor is there any hint of barrel aging here. Very sweat.
F = thick, chewy, robust, over the top.
O = a very powerful RIS, almost too much! I wish I could save the rest of this because it's going to be hard to finish. 4.45

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Photo of oregonduck
3.1/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Very sweet, but not a lot of complex flavors. Taste is sugary sweet mixed with some bitter coffee. This doesn't really have the typical nice bourbon barrel aged flavors. Smell is coffee and alcohol. Texture is nice, thick and silky. Overall, this is a decent stout, but nothing special. It is just too sweet for my taste, as the sweetness just takes over and becomes overwhelming. Hard to finish the bomber. WNBA.

 421 characters

Photo of puboflyons
4.56/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

From the waxed on 650 ml. bottle. 2014 batch. Sampled on April 3, 2015.

Jet black pour with modest tan had that fades out some.

Aroma of deep roasted caramel malts, coffee, and a hint of that 11% ABV booze.

The body is full and smooth.

The taste tends to bring out more sweetness in those dark malts. But the booze is a little more evident and lingering. Still delightful all around.

 388 characters

Photo of TheDrunkenNerds
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Imperial stout that has a suttle sweet taste. This is aged in bourbon barrels and you taste the bourbon after the first taste. A great tasting beer with the perfect color

 170 characters

Photo of AppaZappa
3.78/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured 22oz bottle into a tulip. Brown in color; lighter than expected. Smell is chocolate, malt, coffee, caramel, slight oak and tannin. Taste is malt, cocoa, and a bit of soy sauce. Bourbon is understated. Taste is light for abv. Unique beer, but doesn't come together for me.

 278 characters

Photo of Spiegle
3.76/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

At boneshaker in rockin ca. Draft in tulip glass. Pour dark black with very little head. Get lot of chocolate small amount of coconut in the taste. Feels very thin for a stout. Overall pretty good beer. Not great but would drink again.

 235 characters

Photo of Ozzylizard
3.86/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

$ 15.49/22 oz bottle from Craft Shack
Bomber at 45 degrees into snifter
Aroma of roasted malt
Head average (2.5 cm, aggressive pour), light brown, creamy, diminishing to 2 mm ring and island
Lacing none
Body dark brown/black, clear
Flavor predominantly roasted malt; no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl; alcohol warming immediately when swallowed.
Palate full, creamy, soft carbonation
Appearance 4.25, Aroma 3.75, Flavor 3.75, Palate 4, Overall 4

 444 characters

Photo of zerosiah
3.74/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This beer poured a very dark brown into my glass. With the term "black" in the name I was expecting a darker color. I would put this beer into an imperial (barrel aged) brown category rather than a stout. The toasty bitter taste one might expect in a stout is lacking. However, chocolate presence and smooth barreled mouthfeel are quite forward in this offering. If this beer was labeled as an imperial barrel aged brown I would give it a 4.5.

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Photo of tprinzing
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bomber into a stout tulip glass.

L: There was a nice red hue when held up to sunlight. With an aggressive pour it had a three finger head that dissipated within a few minutes. Left a slight lace.

T: For me the chocolate was fairly significant. The coffee was nice and subdued. The bourbon was lighter than I would have liked. The berry flavor was slight, mostly lending sweetness.

 404 characters

Photo of Jeffrey84
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Typical big imperial stout flavors. The one thing that stood out to me was a distinct cocunt flavor mid mouth. Which I loved. I didn't get any bourbon from the barrel aging.I wish it had a bigger mouth feel but overall a good solid beer.

 238 characters

Photo of Mcwill51
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

650 mL bomber poured into a snifter. Appearance - medium pour results in a very thin tan head that dissipates quickly atop a dark brown, almost black beer with reddish hues if held to the light. Have to think this is a result of the wine barrel aging. Nose - caramel, toffee, vanilla, bourbon barrel prominent here. Some hints of dark fruit like black cherries. Also some chocolate and some malt but these take a backseat. Taste - lots of chocolate, some roasted malt that interplays with the coffee, and lots of dark fruits from the wine barrel - cherries, leather, plums, tannins like a Cabernet. Some alcohol heat from the bourbon barrel but far less prominent than what is on the nose. Manifests as a bit of a bite on the finish. Overall pretty sweet for an imperial stout. I actually think a little more coffee (or maybe just a super fresh bottle) would bring out the coffee bitterness more and round out the flavor profile. Don't get me wrong, it's well balanced but a touch in the sweet side (nowhere near say, Founder's Big Luscious). Mouthfeel - low carbonation and a tiny bit on the thin side for such a big beer. Still, doesn't hurt the overall presentation too much and actually causes it to be a little bit more drinkable than it might otherwise be. Overall - an interesting and complex brew that has the bourbon barrel forward on the nose but the wine barrel the most prominent in the taste. Drinkable and sweeter than you're average imperial stout, there are a lot of flavors and aromas going on here to take it but it works well together. The dark brown/reddish tint to the brew is also different from your average Imperial stout. Definitely worth trying.

 1,671 characters

Photo of dpgoblejr
4.75/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pretty aggressive pour lead to slight mocha head that retreated and no lacing amongst the mostly reddish black hue as it was consumed. Smells of bourbon, coffee, fruits, and chocolate. Tastes of bittersweet bakers chocolate, cherries, bourbon oak, molasses, and toffee. Medium bodied brew that has a little bit of peppery heat on the finish. Overall, a solidly crafted Imperial Stout.

 389 characters

Photo of mobrado
4.46/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

So, so, so smooth with just a touch of heat from the bourbon barrel. Very well blended. Tastes like it's aged although the bottle is barely two months old.

 155 characters

Photo of BigBry
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Yard House in LA.
Opaque black with a small tan head. Foam slowly fades, but never disappears, leaving a sheet of lace.
Smell is of dark fruits, roasted malts, and coffee. There is a bit of vanilla and bourbon barrel as well, more as it warms.
Taste has dark fruits, roasted malts, coffee, cocoa, vanilla. Lots of flavors, complex without being overpowering.
Mouthfeel is thick, but still smooth and creamy. Lower level of carbonation.
Flavorful, complex, delivers every thing I was hoping for.

 507 characters

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.41/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

On tap at World of Beer in Jacksonville, FL.

Pours a dark, rich black, with a small head, and a little bit of lacing.

Smells like coffee, cherries, chocolate, and a good amount of bourbon.

The bourbon is less forward in the taste than the aroma. There's a ton of dark fruit flavor here, reminiscent of black cherries. I get a little bit of red wine too. The coffee is strong too, slightly nutty and fruity, with silky chocolate and molasses. There's not a whole lot of roasty bitterness, making this beer pretty sweet. It's good in small doses, about 8 oz or so.

This is medium bodied, a little tiny bit thin, but still really silky and full in the mouthfeel. The carbonation is pretty low.

A really nice BA stout that seems to go under the radar. It's pretty sweet, but other than that, it's really, really good.

 818 characters

Photo of mabermud
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Medium brown body that appears thin and watery. The mocha head quickly retreats into a light ring around the collar. The smell definitely shines. Strong bourbon, oak, booze, roast, and vanilla aroma. The taste is not unlike the smell, plus it has a good deal of dark bakers chocolate. Chalky bakers chocolate taste. Clean finish. This has a good bourbon smell, but the bourbon taste does not take a strong stance. Sweet biscuits as the beer warms. The liquid feel is substantial, fits well, and does nicely with light, dense carbonation.

Overall - This is a nicely made imperial stout. It isn't elite, but is upper echelon, just near or at the bottom of the upper tier. I would likely have it again, but would not seek it out. That's not a problem because it sits on the shelf for a little bit around here when it is released. Try it.

P.S. This beer becomes much better as it warms...

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Photo of flagmantho
3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bomber into a tulip.

Appearance: totally black with a slowly-subsiding finger of creamy tan foam. There's also a nice lace left on the glass; it's very attractive indeed.

Smell: very sweet malt aroma with a light roastiness; it reminds me much more of a dubbel than an imperial stout. There's some fruitiness and some yeastiness that I like, but it's a little underwhelming for a beer this size.

Taste: like the aroma, it's very sweet with a little bit of a Belgian character, but unlike the aroma there's a huge roastiness and a big chunk of bitterness as well. It's not as multidimensional as I like in a beer like this, but it's still very good.

Mouthfeel: rich body with a silky smoothness and a good carbonation yielding a very smooth creaminess. I like it a great deal.

Overall: this is a damn fine beer, although it doesn't blow me away. What surprises me most is the lack of bouquet (at least, for the style) -- though this particular shortcoming does not ruin the overall experience.

 1,023 characters

Photo of SawDog505
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a 16 oz snifter, not sure of the bottle date. Pours a very dark brown, with a three inch light brown h3ad that leaves behind some patches of lace after slowly settling.

Smell is vanilla, dark fruit, leather, pipe tobacco, dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans, and some cinnamon.

Taste is very aggressive strong coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla bean, leather, pipe tobacco, cinnamon, and only a hint of bourbon and that is fine.

Body is a little bigger thatn medium, nice carbonation for the style, a bit dry as you would expect, and a very drinkable sipper.

Overall this is very good. I haven't done a review in awhile, but this one deserved my full attention. Really met my expectations!

 703 characters

Photo of Vincea
3.19/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Very good but I thought it had an off flavor causing it to be a low rate and not sure how fresh or condition it was in found it in a random liquor store in Hawaii

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Photo of Foxybrau
4.37/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thick and black, you know it's good when it hits the snifter. Little head that lingers only as thin swirls for just a bit. Aroma is red wine and really the weakest point of a very strong offering. Slippery in the mouth and transitions nicely from vanilla and dark caramel to malt to espresso on the way down. Aftertaste is charred and dry and begs for another sip. The alcohol is very well hidden, but leaves you with a warm hug from oak barrel. A great blend of notes, complex enough to make you wonder what you missed.

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Black Xantus from Humboldt Brewing Co.
4.12 out of 5 based on 1,332 ratings.
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